Protesters gather in Fort Myers, march through city
We followed protesters who gathered in front of police headquarters in downtown Fort Myers Sunday evening, and some began marching through the city.
Public demonstrations in Fort Myers lasted for hours to end the weekend.
There were calls for justice in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota among protesters, as well as a general call for justice for others who have also died while in police custody.
Overall, protesters remained peaceful in their demonstrations, and that is what organizers told us they wanted to see.
“This is meant to be a gathering and a memorial for Mr. Floyd, who was killed at the hands of an officer,” organizer Chantel Rhodes said. “But we also want to show that, as Americans, we are responsible citizens. We can protest peacefully.”
More than 100 people of all races and ages appeared in the downtown area to protest peacefully in front of the FMPD HQ building and the streets of the city.
“When I saw it on TV, I just thought it wasn’t real,” said protester Dariona Gary, whose parent gave them permission to go on camera. “But then, when I came out here, I realized it is real.”
“This matters to us because we’re black every day,” protester Stefan Imbert said. “This is something we face from the second we’re born until the day that we go.”
“It’s hard knowing that my son, even though he’s a grown man, is out in this world having to deal with this,” protester Michelle Gemma said.
People used their signs, their bodies and their voices to protest police brutality in America, as FMPD created roadblocks so people could march safely.
“It’s not fair to see people of color treated that way when everyone else isn’t treated this way,” protester Sarah Thomsen said.
“This is our America too, and this is how we choose to respond to the injustices we see going on,” Rhodes said.
Protesters hope using their voices peacefully is a first step to make sure what happened to George Floyd does not happen again.
Organizers told us they want people to know this is not an attack on Fort Myers Police Department, rather a larger protest of police brutality. They say they communicated and coordinated with FMPD all day to keep the protest safe.
More protests are expected to be demonstrated in Southwest Florida in the coming week.
“The important part is showing up,” Rhodes said. what we’re doing today. What we did yesterday. Showing up. Having an opinion on that matter but allowing it to reflect in the voting booths, allowing it to reflect in our day-to-day lives. That is how we move forward.”
WATCH video on Breana Ross WINK News Facebook from the various scenes of the protests in Fort Myers.